Riverkeeper hosts a pipeline tour; protester threatens to block gas company earthmovers
Forces are gathering to stop the controversial 7.1-mile loop that the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company is planning for the area north of Milford Borough.
On November 4, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network conducted a tour of the area where the loop will begin up on Schocopee Road at the Pike County Park. Over 40 people gathered up on the hill and listened to Faith Yerbe of the Riverkeeper Network and others outlining the future damage they say will come if the project begins. They were joined by residents of New Milford, NJ, who have already had a similar loop constructed in their area.
“They devastated our park with a similar loop near us in Vernon, NJ,” said protestor Beverly Budz of the North Jersey Pipeline Walkers in New Milford. “They cut down 53,000 trees, destroyed 2,800 feet of wetlands and they left the site looking like a bombed-out area. There was no effort to put the land back to its former condition.”
Budz said that there was a lot of contamination left behind.
“There is absolutely no reason for this loop,” said Alex Lotodo, an area resident, who is also connected with the Energy Justice Network in Philadelphia. “This is sheer greed. They don’t need this loop. They have an existing pipeline that is carrying gas right now. They just want to expand the capacity so that they and their stockholders can get richer.”
Lotodo said that the next move is to drill in the Delaware River watershed where they might contaminate the drinking water of millions. He said that he plans to block the TGP earthmoving machines with his body if they begin to dig the loop.
Asked about the threat of being arrested he said, “That would be unfortunate.”
It was not clear whether others would join him.
The group was given an opportunity to view the environmental damage, which the Delaware Riverkeeper Network claims was caused by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s 300 Line Project across public lands of the county. The company is wholly owned by the Kinder Morgan Company.
Environmental groups sponsoring the tour on Sunday, among others, included Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Twin Lake and Walker Creeks Watershed Conservancy, Pennsylvania Sierra Club, New Jersey Sierra Club, 350 New Jersey, Clean Water Action and Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited.
The groups walked parts of the gas pipeline that were installed almost a year ago in November.
The controversial section of the pipeline near Milford is part of the TGP 300 Line Project, which will carry gas from the Marcellus shale gas fields in mid-Pennsylvania to markets in New Jersey and New York. TGP decided to avoid crossing the Delaware Water Gap National and Recreational Area, anticipating the park’s opposition based on informal conversations with park officials.
Local residents near the site of the 7.1-mile cut on Cummins Hill Road have been protesting the project for months, holding public demonstrations to raise local awareness.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the Milford loop at the end of May but the Eastern Environmental Law Center, the Pike County commissioners, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, New Jersey Sierra Club and New Jersey Highlands Coalition are challenging the approval and have requested a rehearing.
“This pipeline project will have devastating impacts on the region and we need to work together to stop this new line from being built,” said Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator for the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This line goes through some of our most environmentally sensitive areas to deliver gas to a region where demand for gas is dropping. This tour is an opportunity for concerned citizens and neighbors to learn more and will offer ways they can get involved in opposing and defeating the project in its entirety, because we do not need to expand this infrastructure to carry more gas produced through the dangerous technique called fracking.”
TGP did not return a call for comment.
Another public tour is planned for November 11 at 10 a.m. Call 215/369-1188, ext. 102, for more information.